Jimmy Garoppolo had a phenomenal audition with the San Francisco 49ers. He completed 120 of his 178 pass attempts for 1,560 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 96.2 in five starts and six game appearances this season. Garoppolo put those numbers up while without a key weapon on offense.

The day before the 49ers acquired Garoppolo via a trade with the New England Patriots, veteran wide receiver Pierre Garçon sustained a neck injury during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Unfortunately, a guy who's been one of our, if not our best, players this season is out," 49ers general manager John Lynch said while announcing the injury during a KNBR interview.

Despite erratic quarterback play, Garçon was on pace for his third career 1,000-yard season. Through eight games, Garçon was leading the 49ers with 40 receptions for 500 yards. It was offensive production that seemed difficult to replace.

"It was a huge challenge when we lost Pierre halfway through the year, especially with him being the veteran of that group, one of the only guys who had ever started before," 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Tuesday.

There was some positive that came from Garçon's injury. It presented his offensive teammates an opportunity to step up, and many of them did just that. One of those players was wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was forced into the role of the team's number one receiver.

Through the 49ers' first eight games of the season, Goodwin was averaging just under 44 receiving yards per game. During the second half of the season, he averaged nearly 84 yards per game leading into Week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams when he suffered a concussion and was forced to leave the game. It is likely Goodwin would have reached his first 1,000-yard receiving season if not for the injury. He finished the season with 56 catches for 962 yards and two touchdowns, which is just 38 yards shy of the milestone.

"That was a big loss when we lost Pierre and put a lot of pressure on other guys," Shanahan said. "It didn't happen right away, but throughout that time Pierre was gone, Marquise took it to another level, [WR Kendrick] Bourne ended up helping us out. [WR] Trent Taylor started playing at a higher level. [TE George] Kittle came back, finished strong. [TE Garrett] Celek, to me, played at a higher level. A lot of guys really stepped up to that challenge."

The 2018 season will be Garçon's 11th in the NFL. His injury, which Lynch described as a non-displaced fracture of the right C5 pedicle in his neck, was believed to require eight weeks of recovery. That means Garçon is likely feeling a lot better as of this writing.

"Pierre is healing up," Shanahan said. "He's going to be good to go, and I'm pumped to get him back for OTAs."

The return of Garçon, who is the 49ers most experienced receiver, is good news for Garoppolo – assuming the team signs the quarterback to a new deal or uses the franchise tag to retain him.

Shanahan is clearly excited to see what a veteran like Garçon can do when paired up with his new franchise quarterback.

Garçon, who will be 32 at the start of the 2018 season, was acquired via free agency last March after signing a five-year, $47 million contract with the 49ers. He spent his previous five seasons with the Washington Redskins and the four before that with the Indianapolis Colts.